LONG BEACH, Calif. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends shopping “online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday.”

The pandemic has changed holiday shopping this year, and it is having an impact, especially on small businesses.

What You Need To Know

  • The CDC recommends against shopping in person

  • Small businesses like The Hangout rely on foot traffic and in-person sales

  • Business owner Melissa Carpenter is planning special events to entice customers inside

  • There is some help available for small businesses like grants and deadline extensions

Melissa Carpenter is the owner of The Hangout where several artists sell their work.

In hopes of a holiday rush, she is having a woodworker build shelves to display products and spread out the few people allowed inside the store at a crucial time.

“One-hundred percent November and December are our, what I say, breadwinner months. If those months are not good, it kind of hurts us the rest of the year,” Carpenter said.

As long as she is allowed to keep her doors open, Carpenter is trying to entice people with experiences customers cannot do virtually, such as personalized scent making and book signings.

However, online sales alone will not cut it.

“I just don’t have the power that these bigger sales channels have, so I don’t actually try to compete with it in a volume-type way, in a sales-type way. What I try to do is offer people something special and different here that they can’t find on those channels,” Carpenter said.

For customers like Ebony Murphy-Root, shopping is one of the few reasons to leave the house. It makes sense to lean in and make it a big to do.

“Shopping more is kind of like a big outing now,” Murphy-Root said. 

There is some help available for small businesses.

Long Beach City Council voted unanimously to allow business owners extra time to pay some city business license tax and fees. No penalty will accrue until after March 31, 2021, for late payment of any license taxes as well as health, fire, and business-licensing fees issued from March 16, 2020, to March 31, 2021.

The city of Long Beach will also offer a Business License Fee Grant for qualified full-service independent restaurants.

Carpenter applied for several small business grants, but she is still waiting to see the money.

“I definitely think we will see another wave of small businesses not pulling through it,” Carpenter said.